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by Steve Young

Steve Young columns
"We don't dispute that the ISOO (Information Security Oversight Office) has a different opinion. But let's be very clear: This executive order was issued by the president, and he knows what his intentions were. He is in compliance with his executive order"

-- White House Spokesman Tony Fratto

Location: The White House Pressroom

Tony Snow: Good morning. I see we have an overflow crowd today. We intended to build a bigger press room with more chairs, so will those in the back please sit in those seats. First of all, the President would like to send out early birthday wishes to Professor Irwin Corey who will be 94 next week. Helen?

Helen Thomas: Vice President Cheney is refusing to allow an inspection of his office by the National Archives' Information Security Oversight Office. Isn't that a clear contempt of President Bush's own executive order?

Snow: Oh, I'm sorry, Helen. I intended to call on David.

David Gregory: Helen's question.

Snow: (Sigh) If you actually read the order, the President clearly intended it to only apply to those he intended it to apply to and not have it apply to those who he did not intend it to apply to. All of that, quite intentional.

Gregory: But I did read it and it doesn't exclude the Executive Branch. Isn't the Executive Branch part of the government?

Snow: Now you're just speaking gibberish. But let's say, for argument's sake, this (gestures finger quotes) "Executive Branch," as you call it, is part of the (gestures finger quotes) "government." If that hypothetical were applied, then sure, the order would apply to the Executive Branch, but not necessarily to those in the Executive Branch.

Gregory: But when the president says "government," and doesn't exclude anyone in that government, he'd have to mean all of government, wouldn't he?

Snow: You're not saying you can read minds, are you David? Because the only one who can read the President's mind is the President. And he does so every day after finishing his morning bike ride.

Gregory: But in the President's order, it distinctly mentions any number of times, that the President and the Vice President fall under this order.

Snow: He also said we would find WMD in Iraq. Just because we didn't doesn't mean he didn't intend to find them there. And if that didn't raise any red flags I don't see why this should be any different. Look. When the founding father drew up the two branches of government...

Gregory: Three.

Snow: ...All right, I'll play your little game. Three. But they didn't intend to have three. Originally there were only two. The Legislative, which was intended to approve of every idea the country's king offered -- much like in President Bush's first six years.

Gregory: We don't have a king.

Snow: Sure, David. Sure. The second branch of government was the Judicial, which was to be used whenever President Bush, or any leader, for that matter, was not actually elected. But, as nature intended, the two branches became very fond of each other and with one thing leading to another, soon an adorable bundle of joy, the Executive Branch, was delivered to the country. So you see, it's not what the founding fathers intended, but it happened anyway.

Gregory: But now you're just saying the opposite. That there is an Executive Branch.

Snow: Yes and no. But in actuality, no. The President doesn't argue that there is great disagreement in the country as to whether there is or is not, an Executive Branch, but there is no question that if there is an Executive Branch, it is or is not a necessarily part of the Executive Branch, that may or may not exist.

Ann Compton: The order says that "Our democratic principles require that the American people be informed of the activities of their government." Doesn't the President intend to adhere to his own stated democratic principles?

Snow: His democratic principles, yes. But I'm sure you'll all agree that everyone has their own concept of "democratic principles." That's why we call this a democracy.

Compton. Technically, it's a republic.

Snow: Not during a time of war. Richard?

Richard Wolfe: Rahm Emanuel is threatening to pull the Vice President's funding if he doesn't comply with ISOO's request.

Snow: You know, it's a lot like when we said that Saddam threw the UN inspectors out of Iraq, when it was actually us who told them to leave. Is there any question that Saddam intended to throw them out sooner or later? The President just didn't want to wait and see Saddam's intentions end up being a mushroom cloud. If Representative Emanuel intends to undermine the troops and place this country in the middle of a nuclear war, well, perhaps he should just say that.

Wolfe: That has nothing to do with what Emanuel said.

Snow: Exactly my point. Terry...

Terry Moran: Henry Waxman says that what the President and Vice President are doing is unconstitutional.

Snow: Guys, how many times do you intend to take out the trash but something comes up and you don't? I'm sure Congressman Waxman has forgotten more than once. You're not going to create a constitutional crisis over garbage, are you? Jeez, guys. It's not like the President were making a signing statement. Look, it's very similar to when a young man tells his girlfriend's father that his "intentions are honorable." Just because he says it doesn't mean that's what he intends. If you're going to hold the President liable for what he says, you better be ready to throw millions of young men in jail just because they want to have a little fun. Think of the President's executive order as just his way of having a little fun with your daughter. And if you can't trust the President with your daughter, who can you trust? The President hopes that you're all clear on what is just a simple misunderstanding -- of yours. At least that's his intention. Okay. I see lots of hands and I intend to call on everyone of you. See you tomorrow.

Award-winning TV writer, Steve Young, is author of "Great Failures of the Extremely Sucessful" (

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Albion Monitor   June 21, 2007   (

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